All three Celtics first rounders ranked top 7 in ESPN's "Top rookies and prospects from the 2016 draft"
|Celtics 2016 1st rounders: Brown, Yabusele, and Zizic|
While Jayle Brown being ranked top 7 in a re-draft article of the 2016 draft is to be expected (and even leave fans disappointed by his #7 ranking), ESPN's Chad Ford and Kevin Pelton showed a lot of love to the other two Celtics 2016 draftees.
Ford: 4. Guerschon Yabusele, Boston Celtics
I'm going to go way out to left field for my next pick. While technically not an NBA rookie, Yabusele was the 16th pick in the draft. He played in China this season, averaging 20 points and nearly 10 rebounds per game.
Kevin, your translated stats for Yabusele had him averaging nearly 14 points and rebounds per 36 minutes as an NBA power forward. And in his debut for the Maine Red Claws last night, he had 17 points and 9 boards in just 25 minutes. And that was his first game in a month after an ankle injury ended his season in China early.
The Celtics are very bullish on him. He's a strong, super-athletic big man who can stretch the floor and plays with both great energy and feel. He's a little undersized for his position, but the comparisons to Jae Crowder (or before the draft, Larry Johnson) seem apt.
I think I'd take his upside right now over that of Hernangomez or Brogdon.
Ford: 5. Ante Zizic, Boston Celtics
I debated between Yabusele and Zizic and I know the Celtics are very high on both, as are NBA scouts for some other teams. His size, strength, toughness and skill set make Zizic a big man to watch for the Celtics' future.
If Jaylen Brown improves, the Celtics will have had a heck of a draft. And who would've thought Brown might be their third best prospect from 2016?
Pelton: 5. Ante Zizic, Boston Celtics
I'm going with the other first-rounder the Celtics stashed, No. 23 pick Zizic, who has split time between KK Cibona in his native Croatia and Darussafaka in Turkey. Between the two stops, Zizic has averaged 20.5 points and 10.0 rebounds per 36 minutes on 67.0 percent shooting. Just 20, Zizic could be part of Boston's rotation next season when he's scheduled to join the team.
In the longer term, he could follow in the footsteps of Nikola Jokic and Jusuf Nurkic as centers who have translated success in the Adriatic League to the NBA.
That's quite a leap for Guerschon Yabusele and Ante Zizic who were picked 16th and 23rd respectively. Zizic hasn't gotten a lot of buzz this year as a player who will likely outperform his draft spot, but this is the first I've heard of Yabu being lauded so highly. Even if it's by the guy who is most known for driving the Darko Milicic band wagon (and editing his mock drafts years later to make himself look better), it's still noteworthy.
While Ford ranked Jaylen Brown #7 and was complimentary of his athleticism and "emerging skill set," Pelton isn't as big a fan:
As excited as Celtics fans are about Brown being a rotation player as a rookie, he still rates below replacement level by RPM and box plus-minus. He's cut out many of the poor shots that made him inefficient at Cal but still doesn't look as good statistically as by the eye test.
Pelton still ranked Brown #7 for what it's worth.